Precog Diaries – A Roller Coaster Ride

It all began with a mail from PK in November 2014, commending my performance in his courses (CSE 545: Foundations of Computer Security and CSE 51SP: Internet Security and Privacy). It always feels great when a professor pats your back and even more when he offers you to join his research group! Precog is a different place altogether in IIIT Delhi, its not just a Research Lab, it is a “dojo of learning”. Randy Pausch once said “… experience is often the most valuable thing you have to offer …”. I was fortunate enough to spend 18 months here and I believe it has been an extremely rewarding experience. The tribe at Precog is a mix of ‘Super Cool’ PhDs, ‘Fantastic’ RAs, ‘Brilliant’ undergrads and ‘Awesome’ postgrads doing wonderful work on security and privacy in Online Social Networks, all headed by the guru “PK”.

The lab culture is amazingly open and you can approach ANYONE for help and knowledge. It’s great when you have wisdom trees (AKA PhDs) dotted all around the lab and you can seek shelter under any one of them. I personally feel right mentorship is vital for research and Dr. PK has been a very strong guiding force. Initially I worked with Anupama (Ph.D. students) on the problem of social reputation manipulation in OSNs where I learnt a great deal of new technologies and preliminary data analysis. In 2015, Precog was granted a government project where the theme was to understand and analyse disclosure made by employees of an organisation on OSNs.

I am grateful that PK considered to chose me to work on this project which also aligned with my thesis work. We explored six social networks to identify employees of a subject organisation and collected public posts about the organisation. We analysed this data in multiple dimensions like popularity, reach, sentiment, source of influence and geospatiality to discover actionable intelligence and results which could aid the organisation to leverage the information and monitor the content for sensitive disclosure. A system based on this work was developed that can collect, analyse and visualise information being posted by employees of an organisation. I was thoroughly supported by PK and Precog-er’s especially Rishabh (Ph.D. student) sir who collaborated with me on this project. I’d like to extend my gratitude to them for all the guidance and motivation.

Some of the lessons were learnt hard, but I believe that’s important because it makes them so valuable. Apart from work, Precog is also a fun place and we have had loads of celebrations for our achievements in the past year. It has also given me an opportunity to take part in conferences and workshops and interact with researchers having similar interests. It has been a great time at Precog and I will always cherish working here. Some beautiful memories of the past year ..

Below are some pics from the group!